Saturday, July 31, 2010


The view driving in to Yosemite

Yosemite : Just the drive in to Yosemite offers beautiful vistas as you drive along the very curvy and hilly road. There is a $20 vehicle fee, good for 7 consecutive days.

Half Dome

Many of the famous Yosemite sights such as Half Dome and El Capitan can be seen from the roads in the Yosemite Valley area.

Us in the Tunnel Tree

Tuolumne Grove : Since we entered the park from CA-120, the ranger at the entrance suggested we stop at Tuolumne Grove on our way in to Curry Village, where we were staying. This proved to be good advice since the parking lot there filled up quickly. The trail is 1-mile one way and is downhill to the grove and uphill back to the trailhead.

The trail took us to a beautiful sequoia grove including the “Dead Giant,” the first tree to be tunneled in the park. In 1878, a tunnel was cut through the already dead tree stump so that wagons could pass through it. The tree is approximately thirty feet in diameter at the base, and it has been dead for over 100 years!

Mariposa Grove and Merced Groves are also sequoia groves located in Yosemite.

Bridalveil Fall is easy .5 mile round trip, paved trail

Lower Yosemite Fall an easy 1.1 mile loop trail with views of both Lower and Upper Yosemite Falls


Jamestown : Jamestown is about an hour and a half from the main part of Yosemite.

View from the porch off our hotel room.

We decided to stay in Jamestown the night before we went in to Yosemite, rather than driving from Pigeon Point to Yosemite. Jamestown is a cute little western-style town. It has several shops that close at 5 pm, so we didn’t get to go in them.

To see more photos of Yosemite and Jamestown, go to: Yosemite photos on Flickr.

Want to sleep and eat? Here's my post on lodging and dining in Yosemite and Jamestown.


Yosemite : There a plenty of lodging options inside the park, most of it pricey and booked far in advance. We were lucky to get a canvas tent cabin (wood floor, canvas sides and top) in Curry Village on short notice (7 weeks before).

The downside was that there are several hundred of these cabins in close proximity to each other, and unless you are staying in one of the motels or lodges, you have to keep all of your food and toiletry items in a bear-proof container located outside of the cabin. During the night we were awoken by the sound of a bear attempting to get in to one of the containers, luckily it wasn’t the one outside of our cabin.

There are many food options in Yosemite, ranging from snack shops to fancy restaurants. We ate at a breakfast buffet at the dining pavilion in Curry Village.


The hotel we stayed at in Jamestown

Jamestown : Jamestown is about an hour and a half from the main part of Yosemite.
We stayed at the Americas Best Value Inn & Suites Royal Carriage Inn. It was a cute, Victorian-styled hotel, and we had access to the second-floor balcony that looked out over the main street.
Unlike the shops, most of the restaurants are open past 5 pm. We didn’t eat at any of them, but did sit on the hotel balcony and listened to the live music playing at the restaurant across the street.

Looking for something fun to do? Here’s my post on attractions in Yosemite and Jamestown.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


The Painted Ladies with the San Francisco skyline behind them

Before we even left for our trip, I ordered the “Visitors Planning Guide,” and while the guide was free, I did have to pay for shipping to have it sent to me, and it was well worth the price. There was a lot of information in the guide and some very nice maps, also.

The double-decker, hop-on, hop-off tours are always a good bet, and they also give you an overview of the city so you can decide what you want to spend more time at. They also offer other packages, so it’s worth a look before you go. (There are some other companies that offer double-decker, hop-on, hop-off.)

Mission District Mural

Mission District Mural

Mission District : The Mission District is full of fabulous murals. With help from the Visitor’s Center, we found a bus route to take us there, then spent part of the afternoon wandering around and looking at the murals.


Chinatown : the oldest Chinatown and one of the largest Chinese communities in North America, it's a fun shopping and dining area.

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park : The park stretches for three miles and is larger than Central Park in New York City. It has more than 1 million trees, nine lakes, gardens, two major museums and a herd of bison. Yes, bison, although they weren’t as interesting to look at as I thought they would be.

The De Young Fine Art Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, the Conservatory of Flowers and the Japanese Tea Garden are all located in the park, although we didn’t stop at any of them.

Scott enjoying the view at one of the Presidio Overlooks

The Presidio : This former military base is now an area with expansive parks and hilltop homes. Because we were on a tandem bike, we entered at Arguello Blvd., turned on Washington and then on Lincoln, stopping at 4 scenic overlooks. It was mostly downhill here. There are great views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge in the fog

Golden Gate Bridge : We biked across the 1.7 mile bridge. It was pretty windy but the views were spectacular, even with the fog. On a side note for graphic designers, the paint color on the bridge is PMS 173.

Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world.

At Lombard Street looking east, the Coit Tower is in the upper right.

Coit Tower : Since I like to go up towers and look at the views, this might be my favorite place in San Francisco.

The view of San Francisco from the Coit Tower


Getting Around : If we hadn’t needed our rental car to drive to Pigeon Point and Yosemite before we got to San Francisco, we would have waited to get it when we left. It’s not easy getting around the city by car, and the parking is expensive and sometimes tricky on the hills. As it was, we had to pay for it to sit for the four days we were in San Francisco.

MUNI: There are many different modes of public transportation. The first four listed are operated by the MUNI (San Francisco Municipal Railway) system. There’s a lot of info, so you might want to do some research before your trip, so you don’t spend time figuring this out.

Turning the cable car around so it can head the other direction.

The cable cars run on a cable under the street and have one north/south route and one east/west route. There can sometimes be a long wait to get on the cable car, and the cost is $5 per ride.

The historic street cars run on rails and also have a trolley pole connected to an overhead wire.

Street cars have rubber tires and don’t run on a rail, but still have a trolley pole connected to an overhead wire.

The buses have rubber tires, don’t run on a rail and don’t have a trolley pole connected to an overhead wire.

The best bet is the MUNI passport. We got a 3-day pass for $20 that offered us unlimited rides on the historic street cars, street cars, buses and most importantly, the cable cars. We bought ours at the Visitor’s Center.

BART : The Bay Area Rapid Transit is more like a subway/elevated train. These go to areas outside of the city such as Berkley or the San Francisco airport.

There are also taxis and ferries.

Scott with the tandem bike

We rented a tandem bike (no way I could have kept up on my own bike) at Union Square then biked, uphill, to Golden Gate Park. Then we biked through the park, over to the Presido, then across the Golden Gate Bridge, which was exhilarating but also a little bit scary. We coasted down to Sausalito then took the ferry back to San Francisco and returned the bike.

If you’re not as adventurous as we are (OK, as Scott is), you can rent a bike at Fisherman’s Wharf, bike to and across the Golden Gate Bridge, coast down to Sausalito and then take a ferry back, and it’s about 8 miles mostly flat or downhill.

There are several companies that offer bike rental and have “Bike Across the Bridge” options.

Someone driving a GoCar down Lombard Street.

Go Cars : We didn’t do this, but it looked like a lot of fun. Rent a little “car” which uses GPS to navigate and also to narrate your tour.

Weather : Sure, everyone told us to wear layers and expect it to be cold in San Francisco, even in July. I even packed long johns, although I didn't really expect to wear them. Only I did. And I also bought a fleece jacket. On the 4th of July. So trust me, it can get pretty chilly in San Francisco, and other places that are along the coast in both northern California and also Oregon. I got a lot of use out of that fleece jacket!

To see more photos of San Francisco, go here: San Francisco photos on Flickr

Want to sleep and eat? Here's my post on lodging and dining in San Francisco.


View from our hotel room looking north up Jones St. from O'Farrell St. You can see the line of people waiting to get in to Dottie's True Blue Cafe.

San Francisco Accommodations : We actually spent a lot of time trying to decide where to stay while we were in San Francisco. The Visitors Planning Guide (see San Fran attractions entry) showed the different neighborhoods and some of the highlights of each neighborhood. Once we narrowed down the neighborhoods we thought would work for us, we searched the websites comparing prices and amenities.

Some of the older hotels don’t have bathrooms in the room, instead there’s a shared bath in the hallway. We ended up at the Americas Best Value Inn & Suites at Union Square. The room was gorgeous, it had recently been renovated with hard wood floors (no gross carpet!), a king-sized bed, mini-fridge, microwave and yes, a private bathroom. The free wifi was a little iffy, although we were on the top floor, but we could usually get it in the lobby or in the hallway. We were in a corner room, so we had two windows with great views that looked onto different streets. Since the hotel wasn’t air conditioned, we were glad that we could open the windows and get a cross breeze. The street noise was a little loud.

And while the location was very close to Union Square, I wouldn’t feel safe walking around by myself at night as the pan handlers were very aggressive. Minutes after we checked in we heard a loud BANG out in the street and several minutes after that there were two dozen police officers in the area. I wasn’t worried, the noise didn’t sound like a gunshot, and I remembered that the date was July 3rd, so I figured it was just a firework, which was what the police must have decided also, as they didn’t stay long.


San Francisco Dining : There are many different options for ethnic food, especially in Chinatown and the Mission District. We had Blondie's Pizza one night, and another night we got fish and chips at Fisherman's Wharf.


San Francisco Pies : Mission Pie is called that partly because it’s in the Mission District and they serve pies, although Scott thought that "Mission: Pie" would also be a good name. Along with fruit pies, they also serve savory pies.

Mmmm. Pies.

The other reason it's called Mission Pie is because they have a mission, they are guided by a commitment to environmental, social and economic justice. One example is serving Walnut Pie instead of Pecan Pie because walnuts are grown in California while pecans are grown in Georgia and must be shipped to California.

Looking for something fun to do? Here’s my post on attractions in San Francisco.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


For those of you who don’t know my husband, he teaches English at Wright State University. He often teaches summer classes, but when he told me he wasn’t teaching summer classes this year, I said that this was the summer we were going to Oregon. Why Oregon? Because on the second Saturday in July, the town of Sisters holds an outdoor quilt show, where they have over 1000 quilts hanging around the town. They have quilts hanging on porches, over railings and on the sides of the buildings. Sisters is located in the “high desert” where it’s sunny 300 days out of the year, they can feel fairly confident that it won’t rain on the second Saturday in July.

I didn’t want to just go see the quilt show, I wanted to have a quilt in it. The guidelines aren’t difficult, but they do only accept quilts over 36” x 36”, and I don’t have many that size or larger, so I made a quilt just to enter in the show. Once the quilt was finished and accepted, we started planning our trip.

Me and "Twilight Descends" hanging out with some other quilts at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show

Since Sisters is 2200 miles from Yellow Springs, we decided that we also wanted to visit Porland and San Francisco. Then we found out that Yosemite National Park is less than a 4-hour drive from San Francisco, so we decided go there, also. While I was researching places to visit between San Francisco and Portland, I discovered that Corvallis, home of Oregon State University, holds a festival called “DaVinci Days” where one of the main attractions is a Kinetic Sculpture Race. And of course we wanted to see the Pacific Ocean in both California and Oregon, so we planned to have some time at the coast.

After deciding all these places were must-sees, we realized that our trip was going to take almost three weeks. Here’s what the schedule ended up as:

- Fly from Dayton to San Fran, stay at Pigeon Point Lighthouse
- Drive to Jamestown, stay one night there
- Go to Yosemite, stay one night there
- Drive back to San Francisco, stay four nights
- Drive along the California coast up CA-1, stay in Ferndale
- Drive to Oregon, stay in Grant’s Pass
- Visit Crater Lake, stay in Redmond
- Visit the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show
- Visit Silver Falls, drive to Portland, stay 3 nights
- Drive to the Oregon Coast, visit Astoria, stay in Seaside
- Drive south, stay in Depoe Bay
- Drive to Corvallis, visit the DaVinci Days Festival
- Drive to Seattle, fly home to Dayton

I plan on posting about the above places, including some of the 600+ photos we took, so check back in a few days!